Chasing Chinook: Captain’s Column (7.28.16)
By angelamontana

Posted: July 28, 2016

The CaptainI got restless last week and decided to head Chinook salmon fishing on Fort Peck Reservoir. You read this correct Chinook salmon are biting on Fort Peck. I have been receiving pictures of king salmon that weigh 10 to 22 pounds for about 2 weeks from Bill Zahradka of Wolf Point. Zahradka is the official salmon slayer of the Montana Outdoor Radio Show and no angler has fished for as many months for salmon on Fort Peck as Zahradka. From April up until now the Salmon Slayer and whoever is lucky enough to be on board with him are catching salmon.

salmon2Some days are better than others but Zahradka can’t remember when he got skunked. “You know its fishing, some days are real good and some days are a little slower, when we catch more lake trout than salmon”, he said. Zahradka believes this just might be the best chinook salmon season ever on Fort Peck. He is not alone anglers that have been targeting salmon have been catching fish since the first part of July on the face of the dam. It is still early because August is normally a lot better month than July, but all indications are that when  the salmon head to the dam next month it won’t be unusual to catch your daily limit of five. Eddie Mindt and his wife are the new managers of the Lakeridge Lodging and Bait Shop by the dam at Fort Peck and he told me that local anglers are telling him that they have not caught as many king salmon as they have caught this July. “This is the first year that we have taken over the Lakeridge and because of the success  the locals have been having we have increased out flashers, squid, and salmon tackle 300 percent over what the previous owner had and when a certain color is working we can’t keep it in stock”.

fortpeckddMindt says it is just the boost that he was hoping for when they took over the business in April, “If this salmon season is good we will see folks from North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and even Canada, we feel very fortunate that this is happening now”.  For Lodging and daily salmon information MIndt has set up a salmon hot line you can reach it by calling 406 526-3597. The basic equipment that you will need to fish for salmon is the ability to troll 2 miles per hour, downriggers, or dipsy divers that will get you flasher and squid down 60-80 feet. To view some samples that the salmon slayer uses log onto Zahradka is always generous with information that will help other anglers understand better how to catch salmon on Fort Peck. “You need to hunt for them around the lake. They are migrating towards the dam and feeding on the cisco as they go, so the first thing I would look for is the bait fish ( Balls of cisco), the chances are if you find the bait fish there will be salmon close by below them”.  Downrigger Dale and I had a chance to fish with Zahradka last Saturday and Sunday. In those days we landed 16 salmon with the biggest being sixteen pounds. 16 chinook salmon in two days! Not bad for a body of water in Montana and we can’t wait for August.

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